The Hidden Man

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Published by: Penguin
Release Date: January 4, 2011
Pages: 480
ISBN13: 9780425237410




A finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.

A novel introducing new series character Jason Kolarich, nominated for the L.A. TimesBook Prize and the Barry Award …

A little girl, snatched from her bed in the dead of night.

They knew who killed her. They couldn’t prove it. 26 years later, her brother Sammy doesn’t care about proof. He only cares about justice.

Now, only his childhood best friend, attorney Jason Kolarich, can save Sammy from a life sentence for killing a killer.

To defend Sammy, Jason must do what authorities could not, decades ago—prove the guilt of the pedophile who killed Sammy’s sister. But a mysterious benefactor, “Mr. Smith,” suddenly appears, offering money, resources, even alibis for Sammy’s defense. And he will stop at nothing—threatening the lives of Jason and his family—to control the outcome of the case. As the trial draws near, Jason races against time to save his family from Mr. Smith’s team and his friend Sammy from life in prison, while two crimes, decades apart, converge in a stunning verdict.

The Hidden Man introduces Jason Kolarich, a mid-30s attorney whose career took off after he won a headliner case—a high-profile political corruption trial—when his life suddenly turned upside-down following a personal tragedy. Tough, smart, and wise-cracking, and now recovering from his personal loss, Jason is a lawyer who puts justice before the law.


“A searing and suspenseful tale of law and murder and long-nurtured revenge, with an ingenious plot and indelible characters. Among Dave Ellis’s fine books, it is the best yet.”
—Scott Turow, Author of Innocent

“Edgar-winner Ellis (Line of Vision) is off to an exhilarating start with this first in a series set in an unnamed Midwestern city featuring grief-stricken attorney Jason Kolarich, who blames himself for his wife and child’s death in a car accident. Jason is shaken out of his emotional coma when a stranger called “Mr. Smith” hires him to defend an old friend, Sammy Cutler. About 26 years earlier, Sammy’s two-year-old sister was kidnapped from her bedroom during the night. Suspicion centered on Griffin Perlini, a convicted sex offender who lived a few blocks away, but police could never prove that he took the child. Now Sammy is accused of killing Griffin , who he believes murdered his sister. Mr. Smith demands Jason get an acquittal for Sammy, conveniently supplying witnesses and a scapegoat for the case. Ellis avoids clichés in a multilayered legal thriller that depends on precise character studies, an original plot and a surprising but logical twist at the end.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Even if it’s been too cold and recessionary in most of the country to hit the beach much this summer, the annual crop of page-turners hasn’t suffered. Now comes one of the best. Hidden Man introduces Jason Kolarich, a middle-aged lawyer who, reeling from the recent death of his wife and daughter, takes on the case of a friend charged with killing a child molester. With an ear for banter that recalls Richard Russo and a giddily complex plot, Ellis provides the perfect transition from the Summer That Wasn’t to whatever’s next.”
—People Magazine

“Jason and Sammy grew up together, best friends until high school; Jason went on to college and law school, while Sammy coasted after his baby sister was kidnapped and never found. Jason became a star at a top law firm but left to practice solo after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. Then the past comes back to haunt them both. Jason receives a $10,000 cash retainer from a mysterious “Mr. Smith” to defend Sammy, who is accused of murdering the man long ago suspected of kidnapping his sister. But he won’t plead temporary insanity, which would allow the dead man’s past into evidence, and Jason is frustrated. “Mr. Smith” has explicit ideas about how he wants the defense handled, and things start going awry when Jason deviates from the plan. VERDICT Edgar Award winner Ellis (Eye of the Beholder) has created an involving character, a damaged lawyer who’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, to build this new series around. Fans of Philip Margolin’s thrillers (e.g., The Associate), which shares similar pacing, grit, and character development, albeit with more violence, will enjoy this.”
—Library Journal, starred review

“A buried crime bears bitter fruit 27 years later. Audrey Cutler was two years old the night she was stolen from her bed. Her kidnapping left her mom a permanent emotional wreck. Its impact on Audrey’s brother Sammy is harder to calculate. Is it the reason that so much of his ensuing life has been spent behind bars for one transgression or another? Attorney Jason Kolarich thinks it might be. Best friends as kids, Sammy and Jason have been out of touch for longer than Jason is comfortable remembering, and now they’re reconnecting in an unforeseen, unsettling way. Sammy’s in jail again for the murder of Griffin Perlini, the sex offender who was once accused of Audrey’s kidnapping. Jason has been hired for the defense under bizarre circumstances. The man who turns up in Jason’s office one day calling himself Mr. Smith makes it clear that money is in ample supply and that his interest in Sammy’s acquittal is intense. But why? Exactly who is Mr. Smith? Is he the shadowy stand-in for someone who, like the Cutlers, has lost a child to a pedophile’s perversion? None of these excellent questions will be answered in a way Jason could possibly have predicted. Plotting with Christie-like care, Edgar winner Ellis (Eye of the Beholder, 2007, etc.) lifts the curtain on a promising new series.”
—Kirkus Reviews

The Hidden Man is a stylish legal thriller, cleverly plotted and briskly told. The dialogue is smart and edgy; insights into criminal law practice are salted throughout the narrative … A fine debut for an engaging series hero.”

“Edgar Award-winning author David Ellis introduces his first series character, attorney Jason Kolarich, in the elegantly crafted The Hidden Man, a novel I said was in the “top tier of legal thrillers.”
—Mystery Books News: Mysterious Reviews: The Best Mysteries of 2009, By Omnimystery

“If you’re the prosecutor who just hung Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich out to dry, what do you do for an encore? If you’re David Ellis, you write your best legal thriller yet…”
—January Magazine: Best Books of 2009: Crime Fiction, Part I, By J. Kingston Pierce